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Perth Zoo's transformation from concrete jungle to leafy sanctuary









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Photo: A sun bear sits in its enclosure at Perth Zoo. (Supplied: Perth Zoo)

Perth Zoo's founding director Ernest Le Souef sometimes kept snakes in the oven of his home on the grounds of the South Perth park to keep them warm.

His great-granddaughter Anna Le Souef, who is one of the zoo's veterinarians, said that was not the only story she remembered about her ancestor.

"One of the stories was when they needed to go and pick up a group of flamingos from the port, and my great-grandfather took one of the girls, one of his daughters with them, and she recalls being sat in the back with the flamingos on the way back to the zoo," she said.

"Obviously, things would be done pretty differently now."




Photo: The old sun bear enclosure was like a small, barred cave. (Supplied: Perth Zoo)

On the 120th anniversary of the zoo's opening, a wander through its 17-hectare grounds shows how radically it has changed since it opened in 1898.

The first exhibits included small, barred caves for a sun bear and a golden jackal — which have been preserved to show how not to care for animals — and other bleak enclosures with no natural surrounds.

"It's so different now," Ms Le Souef said.

"I think they did the best they knew how to in those days, they had the best intentions.


"But our ideas of animal welfare and conservation are entirely different now, so it's a very different place, but I guess the same spirit."











Photo: Wild dogs including an albino fox once had primitive, rocky enclosures at the zoo. (ABC News)
'It's not a concrete box anymore'

Ric Dunlop started working at the zoo more than 30 years ago and now supervises the elephants and other large animals.

"Pretty much as I started in '88, zoos were moving into what you see here," he said.


"It's not a concrete box anymore, aesthetically it looks much better. It's got better design principles for trying to give the animals what they need as enrichment, as housing, and of course we supply all medications."

The evolution of the zoo has seen keepers move from basic care for a wide variety of animals to highly specialised care for one group of animals.

Animal welfare is the highest priority, and the keepers try to create enclosures that simulate natural environments which are healthy for the animals.











Photo: An orangutan mother and baby before the change to more natural surroundings. (ABC News)
Animals are 'ambassadors' for their species

Conservation programs to preserve natural habitats and fight poachers, along with breeding programs for endangered species, are also a crucial part of the zoo's work.

It has managed to bring western swamp turtles back from extinction, and also works with numbats and other Australian mammals and reptiles.

The zoo is also part of an international program to re-introduce a wild population of orangutans into the Sumatran jungle.

There are still sun bears at the zoo, but they are rescue animals. One of them, Jamran, was brought to Perth after being found tied to a pole outside a restaurant in Thailand, where his paws would have been used for soup.


"[The zoo] still holds the entertainment value, but there's a huge focus on conservation in the whole collection that we hold," Mr Dunlop said.

"I think people need to understand that these guys are kept more or less as an ambassador for their species, and the zoo industry invariably is putting money into programs that are conservation-based outside of the zoo and potentially in South East Asia and Africa."





















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Google SV - step Inside

log of paths, trails venues where we "step inside"  
connecting the images into a Virtual tour
Name & URLTheme / FeaturesDate yy.mm / comment
Queen St Jetty 25m jetty South Perth foreshore 2019.09.20 published 
Prionotes Path 0700m nature trail Kings Park  2019.09.16 mapped published in few days 
Poole Track 0820m Nature track in Kings Park 2019.09.16 mapped published in few days 
Western path 2300m nature trail Kings Park 2019.09.16 mapped published in few days 
Zamia cafe to Balga CP  1200m soft surface nature trail Kings park 2019.09.10 Virtual tour Published 
Magpie Path Kings Park 500m hard surface nature trail 2019.09.10 virtual tour published 
Jacksonia Path - Kings Park 1300m / soft surface nature trail 2019.09.09 virtual tour published 
Baird path - Kings Park 520m trail Kings park  2019.09.08 Virtual tour published 
The Narrows Bridge Major Bridge Perth to South Perth 2019.09.04 add pedestrian West side 
Showing 9 items from page Google SV - Step Inside log sorted by Date yy.mm / comment. View more »







Places visited


Event date / locationEvent typeTitle / summaryVenue / hostPublication link
2019.10.20 - East Perth Entertain: Outdoor Cinema double bed with food Mov' In Bed Fbk Grp WA Tourism 
2019.05.20 Perth South West Tourism hot spot  IG Instgram madness at BLUE BOAT SHED Blue Boat House FBK grp wa tourism - pic vid 
2019.10.10 East Perth F&D Point Fraser  Lunch, river, ferry Soul on the Point fbk grp wa tourism 
2019.08.27 / Applecross Heathcote Reserve google map visit how that view Heathcote Reserve fbk grp wa tourism 
2019.09.13 / Point Fraser Perth activity bike along the river Birds of colour Point Fraser fbk grp wa tourism 
Showing 5 items from page Places visited sorted by edit time. View more »


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